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U.S. Census data confirms what Houston drivers feel — we're sitting in traffic longer

Data from the 2020 U.S. Census shows some drivers are spending 35 more minutes in commuter traffic while other drivers shaved a minute off their daily drive.

HOUSTON — The latest batch of data released by the 2020 U.S. Census confirms what countless Houston-area drivers are feeling:  we’re sitting in traffic longer.

“It's just inconvenient,” said one woman who moving through traffic congestion in her Cypress neighborhood earlier this month. 

“Seems like it's never-ending,” said a Galleria-area business. 

“Sometimes it rains, sometimes it's sunny,” said another driver who speaks for so many of his neighbors. “You can always count on Houston traffic.”

David Schrank, a Research Scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute says no, Houstonians are not crazy when it comes to traffic. He says traffic is coming back to pre-pandemic congestion. 

RELATED: These are the 10 most dangerous intersections in Houston

Research done by the university over the last 30 years confirms what the U.S. Census pulled from surveys completed among drivers 16-years and older in the Houston area. 

“Texas is growing like crazy,” said Schrank. “And for every person that moves here… there’s more goods and services moving around... Plus Texas is a key player in the national economy. And so, especially with truck traffic. It’s going to continue on our roads.”

MORE INFO: 2021 Texas A&M Urban Mobility Report

The 2020 data, released online by the federal government, shows increasing commute times when compared to data released in 2015. Drivers in the Liberty County city of Cleveland are seeing a 35-minute increase in their daily commutes. It tracks their one-way daily commute as just under 60 minutes. 

Drivers in Montgomery are spending an additional 10 minutes in traffic during their daily commute.

While most Houston suburbs are averaging 4.5 more minutes in commuter traffic, people in communities like Humble, Richmond and League City shaved a minute off their daily drive.

MORE: 2021 Texas 100 Most Congested Road Sections

“Folks are working from home, still. Or enough are working from home that it still makes a difference,” said Schrank of why some drivers aren’t feeling the added time on the road, yet. 

Construction projects can also cause temporary congestion.

2020 Census data will help the federal government better divvy up funds for transportation projects like the widening of highways across Houston as its population expands. 

RELATED: Interactive map: Houston sees third-largest growth of all metro areas in the country, U.S. Census says

But Schrank confirms, we’ll always feel like construction projects will only provide temporary relief, as more people move to Texas.

“What we need is more transportation options and a transportation system.”

The Texas A&M Transportation Institute ranks Houston as the third most congested city in the U.S., behind New York City and Boston. 

Schrank does share some good news. While Houstonians once wasted 76 hours a year in traffic, because of the pandemic, drivers are now down to averaging 49 hours a year in traffic.

Check out the document below to see how your commute time differed from 2015 to 2020:

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